Johnson: Administration Is Irresponsible on Debt Limit

Wisconsin senator on battle over debt ceiling increase


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Now, you want to calm the markets, then cut the debt. That is the gist of a letter Republican senators sent to the president last week.

Has my guest heard any response? Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin joining me.

Senator, good to have you.

Any response?

SEN. RON JOHNSON, R- WIS.: Absolutely none, Neil.

Thanks for having me on.

CAVUTO: Same here. Senator, you’ve also been looking at a way to think up of an alternative plan just in case August comes and goes and we do not move on this, an alternative -- I don’t know if budget is the word -- but an alternative plan to keep things going, right?

JOHNSON: Right. Well, I’ve been calling it the debt ceiling budget.

But, no, I think it’s first of all very irresponsible for the administration to scare the markets when they should be trying to calm the markets. And it’s also irresponsible -- irresponsible to assume that they will get a debt ceiling increase without real spending controls.

So, what I’ve been just pointing to the fact, that is, if we don’t increase the debt ceiling, we would actually have to live within our means. And what does that mean? According to President Obama’s own 2012 budget, we would still be getting in about $2.6 trillion worth of revenue starting in October.

That is still $800 billion more than we spent just 10 years ago under Bill Clinton. It would pay for 100 percent of the interest at $256 billion, 100 percent of Social Security at $760 billion, and it would still leave $1.6 trillion for essential defense, security, safety, and health spending.

And that $1.6 trillion would only be $200 billion less than we -- our entire budget was 10 years ago. So it would not be the end of the world. It doesn’t have to be a crisis, if we plan for it. And I think the administration is being highly irresponsible -- irresponsible not at least putting in a plan B.

CAVUTO: Well, they say the same of you guys that is Democrats and Republicans, for even attempting to bring us to this brink, and that you just sort of whistle past the graveyard when you say it’s no big deal to not raise the debt ceiling and sort this out later.

What do you say?

JOHNSON: Well, first of all, who’s brought us to the brink?

If you remember, it was just two months ago the president unveiled his 2012 budget. And they said it was the solution. It just was voted on last week. It failed 0-97. I mean, that is a stunning repudiation of the president’s leadership on this issue. So...

CAVUTO: You might be right on all the above, Senator. I’m just saying that do you want -- or are there colleagues of yours who feel perfectly comfortable pushing us to the brink that -- the brink that they say that could lead to possible default, that the means justifies the ends, whatever they may be?

JOHNSON: No. No, Neil, what we want is, we want the president and Democrats in Congress to get serious about addressing our debt/deficit issue. They are not serious. The president’s budget should have added $13 trillion to our nation’s debt. That is not a serious proposal. And when he cannot even get one Democrat to vote for his budget, it pretty well proves how unserious they are.

You know, another stat we’ve been talking about, too, is the Democratically controlled Senate has not passed a budget in 762 days, because they don’t want to put a proposal up. All they want to do, according to Chuck Schumer, is point a finger at Republicans and say, you’re extreme.

CAVUTO: Do you think they’re trying to suck you in then, Senator, with -- you are right on all the above about them not coming up with a budget of their own. All that well and good, a budget himself that -- the president’s was rejected unanimously by Republicans and Democrats -- but they’re hoping that this sets the stage for you to take them on a la Republicans in 1994-’95, and tempt a shutdown that will shut you guys down?

JOHNSON: Well, I think it’s obvious that they are playing a game of political chicken here.

The fact that they do not put forward a serious proposal -- the only serious proposal on the table is the House budget. And then they just attack it. Again, they just point at Republicans and call us extreme, when everybody...

CAVUTO: All right.

JOHNSON: ... in Washington realizes it is the entitlement programs that will not be around if we do not start seriously addressing structural reform to those programs.

CAVUTO: Gotcha.

JOHNSON: So, we need a willing partner. There’s only one person out of 307 million Americans that can sign a bill. That’s President Obama.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator.

JOHNSON: He needs to get serious and come to the table.

CAVUTO: Thank you very much.

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